Buhari, Tinubu and anti-Kachikwu hysteria
Having crashed from the dizzy heights of the grand dreams of prosperity and equity of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, the citizens who are desperately in search of succour are faced with the danger of snatching whatever promises to ameliorate their plight. What is amply being demonstrated now is that the citizens’ straitened circumstances could blur their capacity to make a distinction between those who really love them and are genuinely committed to their well-being and those who would gleefully turn their blighted condition into a populist stunt to leverage their social and political capital.
The citizens who have been left in the lurch by the APC government after winning the presidential election may agree with Bola Tinubu that what Minister of State for Petroleum Ibe Kachikwu owes Nigerians is a public apology and not smugly applauding himself from an Olympian height for how much he has deployed his ingenuity to supply the citizens fuel amid highly discouraging odds. Yet, the citizens must take cognisance of the need to avoid being corralled into a turf war that is not actually designed to benefit them. We do not need to probe how much love of the people Tinubu demonstrated while he was the governor of Lagos State. What we observe now from his position as a leader of the ruling party is enough for us. He was instrumental to the emergence of Buhari as president. It was apparently to avoid indicting himself that Tinubu would not like to blame Buhari for the failure of his government. For Tinubu cannot really say that he found in Buhari administrative genius that compelled him to recommend him to Nigerians as the best presidential material last year. In this regard, we are reminded of the attempts by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to divorce himself from the crises sired by the inability of his successor Musa Yar’ Adua to govern effectively after being hobbled by an illness that he never recovered from.
To be sure, the nation’s fuel crisis is aggravated by the erratic supply of electricity. This is a sector managed by Babatunde Fashola whom Tinubu imposed on Lagos State residents for eight years. On account of Tinubu’s newfangled love for the well-being of the citizens, he should have issued a statement bristling with rage at Fashola’s abandonment of his responsibility of providing the citizens improved electricity. Or does Tinubu not consider it revoltingly illogical for Fashola to compel the citizens to pay more for electricity they are not provided? Which should come first, the provision of meters for the citizens or their paying more for electricity? Would the citizens not readily pay their bills if they were metered and they were convinced that they were paying for what they consumed?
In the face of the gruelling fuel crisis, with the queues growing longer at those few filling stations that have fuel and sell it at exorbitant prices, we may not be able to defend Kachikwu. Yet, we must come to terms with the fact that the inability of Kachikwu to deliver fuel to Nigerians is a reflection of the ingrained incapacity of the Buhari government to meet the expectations of the citizens. For Kachikwu’s floundering is part of the malaise of the Buhari government. It was this blundering that made Buhari to sack vice chancellors and the governing councils of universities. Now, there is the cretinous excuse that he might have been advised to do this by his aides. But by simply acting on such advice, the president only betrayed his middling credentials for the job he sought from the citizens. For if the president were not befuddled by his paranoia that the appointees of the previous government would deliberately not allow him to succeed, he would have taken into consideration the need to seek the opinions of other persons concerning such a sensitive matter. What prevented Buhari from asking around him if whimsically sacking vice chancellors and governing councils is the best practice in the university system? Or does it mean that the president just acts on biases and rumours? Did he seek the advice of his deputy who is an accomplished professor of law? It was this same bumbling that led to the maiden budget of the government being padded. And despite all the pretensions to the zero-tolerance for corruption, with the president declaring while he was in Saudi Arabia that heads would roll over the scandal, nobody has been prosecuted over the development. All Buhari could do was to sack the head of the budget office and redeploy other officials. If these people were actually involved in the budget padding why must their punishment be limited to only sacking or redeploying them? Why should they not be duly prosecuted and given appropriate sanctions ?
In the same vein, Kachikwu may have the competence and all the good intentions in the world to turn around the fortune of the oil sector. But he is probably being hamstrung by Buhari himself who may not be availing himself of the expertise of Kachikwu and may have rather chosen to be listening to the misbegotten advice of ill-informed people to run his government. The anti-Kachikwu forces may soon birth a rash of NGOs to push for his removal. And for Buhari to continue to enjoy the approval of his sponsors, he may sack him. But even if Kachikwu were removed as the group managing director of the NNPC or as minister or both, his successor may not also perform better. After all, Kachikwu’s successor can only work in conformity with what Buhari who is his boss in double capacity – as senior minister and president – wants done in the oil sector. Besides, Buhari is a former minister of petroleum and head of state. So no one can claim that he just sits somewhere and Kachikwu dumps on his table proposals which fail to work. Therefore, instead of the Senate summoning Kachikwu, they should summon Buhari who is the senior minister in the petroleum ministry and direct their questions to him. Nigerians should hold Buhari responsible for being in the queue in the scorching sun or freezing cold.
As long as Tinubu has not disavowed this government, he should stop deploying populist stunts that would make him look different from those who are afflicting Nigerians with a brand of governance that is bereft of transformational energy. Instead of stoking selective hysteria targeted at Kachikwu, Tinubu should start the demonstration of his love for the citizens by apologising to them for foisting an incompetent leader on them.